Pubdate: Tue, 1 Jun 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Evan Goodenow


CHESHIRE - The Board of Education is close to approving a "three
strikes and you're out" policy banning students who drink alcohol or
use illegal drugs off school grounds from participating in sports or
other extracurricular activities.

"We have an obligation to provide an education. We do not have an
obligation to provide extracurricular activities," Superintendent of
Schools David Cressy said. "Since they're a privilege, students who
misbehave can be excluded."

In a 2-1 vote, the school board's policy committee last week approved
the new regulation. The full board is expected to vote in July.

Under the proposed policy, the first penalty calls for a three-week
suspension from extracurricular activities, and for athletes, six
contests or until the end of the current season.

A second violation calls for suspension from activities for up to 180
consecutive school days, but that penalty can be reduced to 90
consecutive school days if the student participates in an
"appropriate" chemical dependency program.

"For third and subsequent violations, the student will be permanently
banned from all co-curricular participation for the duration of
his/her length of time remaining in the Cheshire public schools," the
regulation states.

Incidents involving several Cheshire athletes last year off school
grounds - including an illegal beer party leading to the arrest of
several members of the football team, and the arrest of star running
back Jason Dellaselva for driving without a license - brought negative
attention to the school.

The current policy does not include a provision for a permanent ban.
Students who are caught drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs face
disciplinary action on a case-by-case basis, up to a maximum of 12
weeks for a third offense.

Board of Education Chairman Richard Lau insisted the new regulation
isn't too punitive.

"There's every right to at least suspend kids from privileged
activities," he said. "It's not like we're telling parents what to do
about it."

Committee member Andrew Falvey cast the lone dissenting vote. Falvey
couldn't be reached for comment, but according to the committee
meeting minutes, he had concerns about the penalty for the first
offense, as well as for a punishment carryover from middle to high
school for a second offense.

Falvey recommended the policy receive additional review.
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